Dardis not to contest General Election


Progressive Democrat Senator John Dardis will not be contesting the General Election, it was announced today.

Mr Dardis, who is chairman of the PDs parliamentary party, will chair the party's election campaign team - a committee responsible for ensuring the co-ordination of logistics, finance, policy and communication.

The role is separate from that of the director of elections who is party general secretary John Higgins. Mr Dardis has never been elected to the Dáil but is in his third term as a senator. He is currently serving his second term as Government deputy leader in the Seanad.

He was expected to stand in the three-seat constituency of Kildare South where he has failed in three attempts to break the stranglehold of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour. He also unsuccessfully ran for the European Parliament.

The constituency threw up a surprise in the 2002 election with former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes losing his seat to Fianna Fail's Sean O'Fearghaill. His colleague Sean Power held on to his seat along with Labour's Jack Wall.

Mr Dardis said the difficulty of winning a seat in the election was underlined in 1997 when he won 13.5 per cent of the first preference vote - the highest PD percentage vote in any constituency - but was not elected.

"We had hoped that the most recent electoral boundary changes would result in a fourth seat for Kildare South but this did not happen," Mr Dardis noted.

The PD leader, Tánaiste Michael McDowell paid tribute to Mr Dardis saying he had "extraordinary political experience".

Meanwhile, the party is expected to nominate two candidates in Tipperary South and one in Tipperary North at a selection convention tonight.